Yes, We Do Chapel Daily at Briercrest. Here's Why it Matters.
Chapel at Briercrest is not typically where you go to have a super spiritual experience.
Does this sound strange? Of course, we do spiritual things in chapel, like reading the Bible, worshipping together, and praying. But it's not every day that you go to chapel and see a vision of heaven opening and angels ascending and descending on a heavenly staircase.
Instead, doing chapel every day at Briercrest is something more along the lines of what we call spiritual formation.
My personal favourite quote on spiritual formation is from Dallas Willard. He states that spiritual formation is "the process leading to that ideal end, and its result is love of God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and of the neighbour as oneself."
It’s kind of like brewing coffee. You can either have instant coffee that takes no time to make, or you can go into a deep 45-minute process of making that perfect cup that is beautifully crafted. The difference is that instant coffee is a quick fix, and the perfect cup has that ideal end.
Doing compulsory daily chapel is actually counterproductive in today's day and age. In this cultural moment, we see success as instant, but chapel at Briercrest is the opposite of instant. It’s a process that involves that ‘ideal end,’ as mentioned by Willard. It’s important to note that we don’t do a few chapels here and there, we actually do chapel 99 times throughout our school year.
What it means to go to Briercrest is what is kind of similar to what spiritual formation looks like.
A Very Brief History of Daily Chapels in Higher Education
It has become quite normal to see schools not doing compulsory daily chapels anymore. As a Briercrest student, it’s quite sad to see happen.
In 1866, the famous Ivy League school Harvard University decided to remove compulsory daily chapels that were a regular part of their student's spiritual life.
This was a move that set a precedent for many other schools in North America in becoming more secular.
Fast forward to today, compulsory daily chapel in higher education has become non-existent, sometimes even in Christian higher education.
The death of daily compulsory chapels has been unfortunate. But at Briercrest, the school has held onto the commitment of daily chapel, and for this, I am blessed. Doing compulsory chapel as a student body orients our day and sets the stage for everything we do at Briercrest.
What Does the Bible Teach on Doing Chapel Daily?
An essential verse in which to ground ourselves is found in the book of Hebrews. As the author states, "Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25 NLT)
The author of Hebrews explicitly points out how we should not neglect meeting together. There is good reason to believe that there is something special about meeting with one another.
At Briercrest, chapel is the only time throughout the week where the whole student body will gather together to worship in fellowship with one another. For me, being among each other in this spiritual community has been so vital.
Wait, What Does a Chapel Service at Briercrest Look Like?
Let me walk you through what a typical chapel service may look like at Briercrest!
It is 10:37 a.m. Chapel starts at 10:45 a.m. I quickly throw on my coat and grab my iPad mini and my Bible. I grab the guys then we walk down our 0.2 km walk to the Hildebrand chapel (yes, I mapped out the distance of the walk for the sake of this article).
Once me and my bros sit down in the chapel (fun fact, our chapel seats 2400 people, the most in Saskatchewan) we hear some daily announcements. We do them here because this is the only time a day our whole school gathers together.
Right after this, our worship band gets on stage and as a community, we sing 2-3 songs. I always love worshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ here.
Once the worship band gets off stage we hear from a speaker, and I get out my iPad to take some notes. Usually, our college chaplain gets up and reads from the bible and then proceeds to pray.
Right after prayer, we listen to a 20-minute sermon. We will hear from our college chaplain or a guest speaker. We always have brilliant people coming out to teach us about the Gospel. We generally have a theme or topic throughout scripture that we focus on every few weeks. Because chapel is daily, we really get to lean into the topic.
Lastly, one of the coolest traditions we have going on at Briercrest chapel is once our speaker is done, he or she will say, "Go in peace to love and to serve the Lord." And we will then say, "Thanks be to God!"
We then all walk out and go on with our classes, keeping in mind what the word of God was trying to teach us that day.
I love chapel, and I honestly think it is one of my favourite parts of the day because it grounds me in the ways of Jesus every day.
The Result of Doing Chapel Daily
Like I said, doing chapel for me has not led to instant success in my faith. Instead, it has been like a slow spiritual transformation. This is special because it has become a daily activity that allows me to devote time to grow in my faith in Jesus. More specifically, this is done through prayer, worship, teaching, and fellowship with other believers.
I think it is safe to say that there has been a similar result with many other Briercrest students regarding going to chapel, but you can hear it from their words instead of mine:
"Chapel is my favourite time of the day because it really sets the pace for the rest of the day every day, it's really cool in that way."
"I feel this need to go to chapel, I know it's a good thing to do and it will help grow my faith."
The coolest part about what students at Briercrest say about chapel is that it is so special to them.
Why Briercrest is Still Doing Daily Chapel
Even after all these other schools have stopped compulsory chapels, Briercrest is still doing daily chapel. I have reason to believe this is because of the profound transformation that has taken place in many lives who have entered the grounds of this school.
To neglect meeting together daily simply means failing to encourage one another to grow deeper in our faith. Chapel is just too special to ditch.
There is a special significance that chapel has for not only our students but for everyone around the students as well.
I am in my third year now, and I am blessed to say that chapel at Briercrest has personally affected my life for the better. I honestly can't believe how much this has spiritually formed me closer to Jesus.
Education that Disciples: Growing in Your Faith
In my own experience, Briercrest's community can be a vital part of growing in your faith. From dorm life, daily chapel, Christian professors, and more, us students have opportunities to be discipled and disciple others every day here.
To see anyone perhaps draw a step closer to Jesus is the most beautiful thing to me, and I believe this could happen for you at Briercrest.
If you want to learn more about what discipleship really looks like at Briercrest College and how being a part of this community can help you grow in your faith, I want to invite you to listen in on a webinar conversation about this very topic! You can register to watch it on-demand at any time by clicking the banner below.